Measure diversity! This is how you do it.

Measure diversity can be a tricky thing. But as we all know, there are many good reasons for having a diverse workforce. Profitability, less risk for groupthink, and an increased innovation pace. And of course, the simple fact that you want to be a decent employer that does not discriminate. To get it done, you need to measure it.

Diversity and Inclusion usually come in pairs, but there is a certain order in which you might want to do things. Diversity is nice, but it’s also meaningless to have a seat at the table if no one listens to you. On the other hand, inclusion is essential, but not as long as you’re just a bunch of healthy 30-year-old white dudes. Therefore, we recommend you start by making sure that you have a somewhat diverse workforce before spending resources on measuring inclusion. That’s what this blog post is about. (We’ll follow up later with another post on measuring inclusion, for now we’ll continue talking about how to measure diversity.)

D and I walk hand in hand but cover the basics of diversity before measuring inclusion.

How to measure diversity.

1. You must track your processes

It’s always about people and their lives (especially so in this case), so you need to handle it with care. Luckily, diversity is “just” one other aspect of slicing data from your existing processes. It’s about making sure that you have similar conversion rates for all gender identities when hiring, that both people with and without disabilities give similar scores in the engagement survey or that promotion rates are equal regardless of skin color or name. So, back to basic. Make sure that all your processes can be tracked in data, presented in numbers, and developed through grounded insights.

2. Think outside the process box

Slicing the regular hiring process data on certain segments will get you far, but also make sure that you look beyond the core metrics. You can, for example, make sure that employees of all colors are included in the branding material, that team members of all gender identities are a part of the interview process, or that all events really are accessible (and fun!) for everyone. And don’t forget to track the numbers on your scorecard!

3. Chose segments with care

In sustainability reports from large Swedish companies, we find that almost all D&I initiatives are connected to gender identity. Even though there still is a lot to do regarding gender equality, there are still more aspects of diversity than so. Among other segments are sexual orientation, ethnicity/race/skin color, religion, disabilities, and age. Some can easily be tracked through the HR master data, others need to be handled with care. As with all insights, the insights are never found in the overall data. You will most likely both need to segment and cross-tabulate your data to find valuable insights.

4. Understand your segments 

Make sure that you understand what to base your targets on, regardless if you want to be on par or better than average. Use workforce data from unions, NGOs, vendors, or universities to understand what each segment looks like. How many female data engineers are there in Europe? How large share of the population are Muslims? Will you actually move the needle if your efforts regarding LGBTQ+ only focus on young professionals?

Make sure that you understand what to base your targets on, regardless if you want to be on par or better than average.

Also, carefully consider what way it makes the most sense to track each segment. Be careful how you categorize your segments and that you’re consistent across processes, with for example age spans. Make sure that what you measure also covers what you actually want to follow up on. Diversity from an ethnicity perspective might mean that you don’t want to discriminate based on looks, names, or accent. Will you really capture that by using data on nationality, “the second generation” immigrant status or ethnicity categories, or should you maybe be blunt and just ask about looks?

5. Follow local regulations on data protection.

Due to regulations on data protection, you might not be able to collect some data-points into your HR-system. Instead, you need to capture them in other ways, such as through a fully anonymous survey sent out by a third party (that only reports on aggregated insights). In those cases, it makes sense to measure Diversity and Inclusion at the same time to avoid survey fatigue. We strongly recommend you to partner up with your data protection officer, or seek advice from other legal experts.

To summarize, D and I walk hand in hand, but it’s good to cover the basics of diversity before measuring inclusion. And as always in data collection, make thought-through decisions.

Do you want to know more about how to measure Diversity? Or are you ready for a chat about inclusion?

Do you like this post about how to measure diversity? In that case, check out why a pulse survey won’t solve all your problems.